By Don Simpson | November 14, 2011
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Mina, Misia, Pietra Montecorvino, Massimo Ranieri, Lina Sastri, M’barka Ben Taleb, Gennaro Cosmo Parlato, Peppe Barra, Angela Luce, Max Casella, Raiz, James Senese, Fausto Cigliano, Fiorello, Enzo Avitabile, Pino Daniele
Passione is not a documentary and it is certainly not a narrative; Passione is a series of musical postcards proclaiming writer-director John Turturro’s unwavering love for Naples. Whether or not Turturro will convince you to love Naples as he does is totally reliant upon your acceptance of his absurd yet strangely poetic cinematic technique.
Between seemingly random song and dance routines, Turturro directly addresses the camera to recount seemingly random factual tidbits about Neapolitan history. The structure of Passione seems completely nonsensical. At times it plays like a collection of music videos, other times like a cinematic recreation of an opera or musical theater.
The scenic shots of the city are saturated with biased reverence, while some of the musical performances are so absurdly choreographed that Passione seems like it might actually be a form of parody. If Christopher Guest had directed Passione, I would be much more certain that it is a parodic mockumentary; but I am fairly certain that Turturro wants us to take this film seriously.
Turturro describes Passione as “a musical adventure that comes directly out of the people and the volcanic land they inhabit.” He obviously loves the Neapolitan music featured throughout Passione, but he is unable to convince me of why? Passione might be better suited for someone who approaches the film with a pre-existing fascination with Naples.